Earlier today someone on a LinkedIn group I am a part of posted a question on how to get started with sales. While this blog generally focuses on marketing and business tips for healthcare professionals, I thought it would be OK to post something for all the entrepreneurs out there that want to grow their business and need to get started with sales.
The premise of the question that was asked was: how do you grow your web / mobile application once your personal network has been tapped out. What is the best “go-to-market” approach?
I know it is a lot easier said than done, but hopefully my answer will inspire you to take action and get started with selling!
Here was my answer:
First off, congratulations on completing the initial iteration of your platform. I’m sure you are at a very exciting stage of your business. We started selling our service about a year ago, and in that time, I have learned a lot. Hopefully some of these suggestions will help.
1. Built a List
It sounds like you already have early adopters – what characteristics do these customers have? Find out who they are and why they are using your software. Then take the time to build a comprehensive list with prospective users that have similar characteristics.
2. Value Proposition
What value do you bring to the table? What problem / pain points are you solving? Why should they choose your app vs. someone elses? Live by your value proposition and drill it into your prospective customers – even if they are not sold on the individual features of your platform, if you are passionate, your vision and value prop will resonate.
3. Reach Out – Just Do It.
One of the biggest mistakes startups make is waiting to reach out. Either they wait for their product to be “perfect” or they are nervous / scared to take the first steps. If you are waiting till your product is bug free, you are taking too long. Start selling sooner rather than later. Your goal for sales is figuring out if your product has legs. Early adopters and free beta users don’t count – you need market validation and the only way to get that is to have real paying customers.
4. Be Persistent
Normally it takes 3-5 times to get through to the right person. As long as you know what your goal of the call / email is – keep pursuing it until you get it (or get asked not to call / email again). The goal may be getting the decision makers name, setting up a meeting / product demo etc. but stay focused on the goal and continue to try. Your prospects are probably very busy so don’t be afraid to email them every week until you get a response. No is better than no answer.
5. Automate with Customizations
If you don’t have enough bandwidth or are uncomfortable on the phone – use automated emails for prospects that are not on your top lists. You can use services like ToutApp or Quickmail.io for automated email campaigns and LimeLeads for list building. If you are going to use these services – be sure to keep the emails unique and personal. You can be very creative with your reachouts – mention mutual connections you may have on LinkedIn etc.
6. Track Your Sales Numbers
I think it is important to track the funnel of your sales. For us we have the following stages in the pipeline: Lead, Qualified, Cold Interaction, Engaged, Meeting, Sale. I’d encourage you to find a CRM tool that you like where you can keep track of everyone in your pipeline and what stages you are at. It’s also very important that you keep track of acquisition cost, lifetime value, and attrition. Obviously if you are spending $500 to get one new client for $20/month and they leave after their 14-day free trial – there is a bit of a problem. That’s pretty obvious though.
7. Ask for Referrals
Once you sign someone up (or if you are really good, before you sign someone up) ask them who they know that would benefit from using an app. Using Ambassador can help you build a 2-way referral program. The best growth hack in my mind is Dropbox, where they offer 500mb of free storage for every referral – if you can incorporate something like that into your product, it may help you get new clients.
8. Read & Learn
I’ve learned that there are two types of sales people. The first are those that are good at cold calling and setting up meetings. The second are those that can close. If you are an amazing sales person, you can do both. Read different books and articles about cold calling, cold emailing, closing, and negotiating. You will learn so much just by practicing 1 thing a day.
That is all I can think of for now – I’d say the biggest suggestion I have is just to get out and do it.